Author Archives: admin

Trees Please – Forest Bathing for Health & Wellbeing

John M forest 3

image: John Mundy @golfphotostore

Shinrin-Yoku is the medicine of simply being in the forest. As a remedial tonic to the over-stimulation of modern life, this practice of “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”, of taking a walk, breathing in the fresh air, opening our senses and feeling contact with the earth and our natural surroundings has become a cornerstone of preventative health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

What kind of sickness can be cured from walking in the woods? An age old remedy to get some colour in your cheeks, as Grandma would say, it’s now scientifically proven that getting outside can help you heal and increase your vitality. We all recognise that we feel better and generally more alive when we step away from our technology and screens for an hour (or a whole day) and just practice being mindful of our surroundings, opening our senses of smell, sight, sound, hearing, taste. We have more energy, we feel more inspired, more in touch with our surroundings, we make healthier choices, and we develop a closer connection to the natural world around us, more aware of how our individual choices have an impact on our environment.

John M forest 8

Image: John Mundy @golfphotostore

In the last several decades there have been a number of scientific studies on the healing effects of simply being in wild and natural areas. It is no coincidence that this comes at a time when the popularity of outdoor adventure, environmental consciousness, adventure tourism, and alternative therapies such as wilderness therapy for troubled or at-risk youths are increasing ten-fold. A number of organisations are creating programs incorporating mindfulness meditation, hiking, just being outside. People are recognising the importance of our natural world to the health of our internal landscapes. This scientific research proves that our plants and trees are designed to heal. There is an incredible life-supporting synergy and cycle in the natural world, and forest therapy places us as humans amongst this healing environment. Many trees give off organic compounds which support our ‘natural killer’ cells – an integral part of our immune system’s way of fighting off cancer.

Other benefits of spending time in nature? Reduced stress, better sleep, increased recovery from illness, reduced blood pressure, improved mood, increase in ability to focus on one thing at a time, more energy. Opening our senses to nature also develops our intuition –  we learn to contact the world around us in new ways and in turn listen to what our bodies are telling us – messages that can be clouded by technology, mixed messages and distraction. When you spend too long in the city and all you want is to lie in the park, this is your cells sending you a message about what it needs. Other long term benefits on a more personal level include better relationships, increased flow of life force energy, overall increased happiness, a better understanding of the land on which we live, and the condition of our natural environment.

john M forest 1

Image: John Mundy @golfphotostore

One of the most significant problems in our age of connection is that, ironically, we are becoming more and more disconnected from reality. We develop relationships over social media rather than in person, we hide behind our technology, we don’t understand that our actions have a knock-on effect in the world. The more technologically wired we are, the more isolated we become, to the extent that we don’t need to leave our house all day. We order food online, we talk to our friends online, we work online, we shop online, we entertain ourselves online.  By stepping out of our homes, walking into the forest, we are aligning ourselves with nature and taking a step towards healing the chronic modern illness of disconnection.

And the idea, in returning to nature, is not to achieve anything, which is exactly the opposite of the demands of our daily lives. We are conditioned to always be achieving, working towards something. In the forest, Forest Bathing masters do nothing, and gain illumination. As Einstein wisely proclaimed,

“I think 99 times, and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me”.

So just be with the trees –  no need to count your steps, track your calories – just sit, or meander around, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything.

John M forest 7

Image: John Mundy @golfphotostore

The healing power of nature isn’t a new scientific discovery. John Muir, also known as “John of the Mountains”, an American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States, recognised this as early as the 1800s. He wrote “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” So we’ve known it for centuries, but age-old wisdom brings new significance in modern times, as a remedy for modern illness.

And on that note, I’m going to step away from my computer and get back to nature, back to where I came from.

You didn’t come into this world.
You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.
You are not a stranger here.” 
Alan Watts

100 Best Blogs for Disabled People and Carers

 3d Grandpa with his walking frame works online on laptop

Blogging is a great way to share stories, information, personal experiences and practical advice from all corners of the world. It can bring people together in remarkable ways, particularly when the article is uplifting, inspiring or even when they touch a nerve and are hard to read for their brutal honesty.

When a blog is written about something personal, such as dealing with a medical condition or life changing experience, good or bad, it gives the reader an insight into an area that they may not have experienced themselves and by sharing the information, it gives others a greater understanding of the issues and the challenges faced.

In many cases, disability can be isolating and to read a blog written by someone that has had a shared medical condition or disability and to see how they are dealing with it can be hugely reassuring, just to realise that you are not alone. For family, friends and carers, it can also provide greater understanding for the person they care for and the physical and emotional impact of their condition, that they might otherwise find difficult to discuss.

Blogs can also be a great resource for a host of providers, such as travel, holiday accommodation, places to go and things to do, reviews on products and services which can be invaluable.

We were recently contacted by StairliftsReviews, informing us that we have been included in their listing of the 100 Best Blogs for Disabled People and Carers, which of course, we were delighted with  - we are number 19 in the list. The list has some really inspiring blogs, showing you how much some of these bloggers have achieved, along with a whole range of practical advice from finance to travel. So enjoy reading and perhaps follow your favourites to keep up to date with what they are doing.

 

 

Product News: Flipstick Foldaway Adjustable Walking Stick

Flipstick Folding Adjustable stick with seat

Flipstick in Dayglo Pink

Flipstick could become your perfect travelling companion, taking the strain when your legs are tired or you need a short rest.  Whether you are standing in a queue, waiting for a bus or enjoying an outdoor festival or concert, Flipstick is there to support you.

The comfortable walking cane handle doubles as a seat and the whole unit fits easily into the carry bag that is supplied when you purchase your Flipstick. The rubber-grip ferrule is suitable for indoor and outdoor use and the seat/handle is available in either stunning dayglo pink, navy blue or black.

Flipstick folding adjustable walking cane with seat

Flipstick Navy Blue

Folding Adjustable Flipstick walking stick with seat black

Flipstick Black

The shaft of the stick is made from aluminium and is therefore strong and sturdy and there is the facility to adjust the height of the stick from 87.6cm to 91.5 cm, which make this a great gift –  idea for friends or family. Flipstick is easy to use, when the cane is released from the bag, it almost assembles itself for you.

You can read more HERE

Guest post: CRG Homecare Services – Improving Quality of Life for Disabled People

CRG logo

How Homecare Services Can Improve Quality of Life for Disabled People

Living with a disability can make everyday tasks challenging. Regular daily routines can be strenuous or tricky – things like getting dressed in the morning, cooking meals, and bathing might not be possible without help.

For many disabled people, homecare provides the ideal solution, allowing them to retain much of their independence while also benefiting from the support and aid of a care worker.

Regular Support When It Is Needed

The nature of homecare means that it can be adapted specifically to suit individual needs. The person may only require help on a short-term basis, such as once a week to do their grocery shopping or cleaning; or they might benefit from more regular care at specific times of the day, such as mornings or mealtimes.

Unlike in supported living environments, homecare provides continuous one-to-one attention and support for a person at a time of their choosing, ensuring personalised care as and when it is needed. Care workers can dedicate their full attention to the individual’s needs, around a structure that works for them.

An important part of a care worker’s role is to build a strong relationship with the people they visit. As such, visits are designed not only to support individuals and relieve the pressures of their disabilities, but also to offer a friendly face and some companionship. This can be especially good if the individual can’t leave the house regularly to visit friends and family.

CRG Homecare Services

The Little Home Comforts

One of the major benefits of homecare is that it lets individuals still enjoy the small comforts of living in their own homes. They don’t have to adjust to an unfamiliar environment or community, and they don’t have to move away from their family and friends. Whether living with a permanent or temporary disability, continuing to live at home can be far more beneficial for the individual’s health and happiness, because they stay among their treasured possessions and fond memories.

With various technological advances and creations, it is now easier than ever to find ways to accommodate disabilities. There are plenty of gadgets that can be fitted into homes, making various tasks far easier, especially during the times when care workers are absent. These home modifications can support mobility and accessibility, such as getting up and down the stairs or navigating the bathroom.

Installing simple but effective mechanisms such as bathroom grab rails, bath steps or shower seats can also make life much easier for disabled and vulnerable people, ensuring that they can remain independent for longer.

Safety in Case of Accidents

When living with a disability, accidents can easily happen. Homecare offers that extra peace of mind in the case of accidents or emergencies. The individual can feel secure and safe in their own home by having access to care and support should they need it. People can also enjoy the benefits of around-the-clock care if they need that intensive level of support.

Modifying a home to meet accessibility needs can help to prevent accidents, but the individual may want to also consider fitting personal fall and panic alarms. This way, if something does happen, they can rest assured that a carer will be able to reach them, as these systems are constantly monitored.

Real Life: How Homecare Has Helped Jane

Jane is 82 years old and a widow with no children. During the last two years, she has started to struggle with her mobility, resulting in her having to walk with a stick. She was struggling to complete basic daily tasks, and became increasingly house bound because of the pain in her hips, and she feels unsteady on her walking stick.

She started to struggle with basic personal care and was going for days without showering. Being a proud woman, she hid this from her friends and neighbours. She was becoming more isolated and reliant upon a neighbour and her nephew and niece to get her shopping. As people were helping with her shopping, she felt it an imposition to ask for someone to take her out to lunch or to do the shopping with her, so she just stayed at home. When her surgeon suggested a hip replacement she decided to go for it, in the hope that it would improve her general health and wellbeing. She was admitted to hospital in quite a poor state of personal hygiene.

Once the operation had taken place, and plans were being made for her discharge, a hospital social worker came to see her. The nurse who had admitted Jane had raised concerns about self-neglect, and questioned Jane’s ability to go home and continue to live unaided. The hospital social worker suggested that it was time to get some help or think about moving into a care home – at this suggestion Jane broke down. She explained to the social worker that she was struggling to get washed and dressed and hadn’t been able to change her bedding in over a month. They discussed the options available to Jane, who agreed to give home care a try. It was agreed that Jane would have three visits a day to begin with, and four hours for shopping and cleaning the house.

Jane went home and CRG went round to meet her to formulate a person-centred care plan, with a re-enablement focus, to try and get some independence back. Jane worked well with her care workers and built up a great rapport with them. At the end of the six-week period, Jane’s confidence had been rebuilt and she was able to reduce to two calls a day and two hours of shopping and cleaning assistance per week. She is now able to keep on top of cleaning the house, and only needs assistance with changing the bedding, washing it and remaking the bed. Instead of someone going for her shopping, Jane and her care worker go out in a taxi to the supermarket, have a cup of tea and a scone in a café, and then go back and put the shopping away.

Without this support, Jane would either have continued to struggle and her decline would have been greater, or she would have ended up going into residential care. By her own admission, Jane now has a new lease of life and looks forward to seeing her care workers every day, and she especially looks forward to her weekly outing.

CRG Homecare Services 2

 Homecare Can Ease Your Disability

Disabled people needn’t struggle alone. Homecare offers a flexible way for disabled people to receive support and still enjoy the independence of living in their own homes. Whatever the level of care needed, care plans can be adapted to suit the individual.

CRG Homecare provides domiciliary care and supported living services, allowing vulnerable people to remain a level of independence in their own homes. Established in 2000, the company opened its first branch and delivered homecare services to vulnerable adults and children in St Helens, Merseyside. Since then the organisation has grown tremendously, now delivering one million hours of homecare services from 17 branches located across the UK, including Lancashire, London, the Midlands, Tyneside and Yorkshire.

designed2enable.co.uk provides a wide range of stylish mobility products and an enviable range of accessible bathroom accessories to help with independent living.

Design Museum – New Old Exhibition

Pop up exhibition on ageing

Photography by Luke Hayes

We recently had the pleasure of attending this intriguing pop-up exhibition at the new home of the London Design Museum in Kensington. London always poses a challenge for us in finding Blue Badge parking for my wheelchair, but we were fortunate on this occasion when a quick call to the museum before we left, allowed us to park right outside the door. They do not have dedicated parking for Blue Badge card holders and when we arrived, there was a little confusion with security but in the end, they kindly let us park.

The New Old exhibition is free admission and kept us busy for a few hours. Our sixteen year old daughter also came with us and she seemed to enjoy the experience too. The exhibition rethinks the design approach to ageing, and looks at how design can help the ageing population lead fuller, happier, healthier and more rewarding lives. The exhibition is Curated by Jeremy Myerson, and Helen Hamlyn, Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art.

The exhibition is organised into six sections – Ageing, Identity, Home, Community, Working and Mobility. Each section features a special design commission by a leading designer or design team, creating new solutions for demographic change as well as addressing the challenges of age.

There were a few activities, which encouraged you to participate in their research. One invites you to complete a card, stating your age and then what age that you considered people to be ‘old’, and any comments to support your thinking. You then displayed your card on a huge board with hooks for all to read. It was a really interesting exercise and you were able to read the cards and opinions of others. It did seem that the younger you were, the lower the age that you predicted old age to begin. It will be interesting to hear the results!

Scooter For life with shopping trolley

Scooter for Life

New Old showcases concept designs such as Scooter For Life by PriestmanGoode which encourages people to stay active for longer. The fun modern design is critical to dispel the stigma of ageing.

illustration of scooter for life

Credit: PriestmanGoode

Paro, a soft robotic interactive therapy toy was also on display, designed by Takanori Shibata of the Intelligent System Research Institute of Japan. Paro is widely recognised as one of the most therapeutic devices in the world, helping comfort older people with dementia.  Paro moves and behaves like a normal animal, it vibrates and winks and responds to being stroked. People with dementia form an attachment to it for comfort and companionship. The robotics industry is being fuelled by the Japanese, who have not allowed migrants into their country and now have an overwhelming problem of an ageing population with no-one to care for them.

Paro robotic seal dementia

Paro Robotic Seal

Arthritis Research UK are one of the sponsors of the exhibition and it is estimated that around 10 million people in the UK are affected by arthritis or related conditions and the number climbs as the population ages. Arthritis Research UK is not just active in supporting medical research for breakthrough treatments, but also encouraging  innovative design to meet the daily living needs of people with arthritis. The exhibition showcased some award winning products such as the Ezi-Plug which aids the ease of use for people with arthritis in their hands, also for those with sight loss. The socket switches off automatically when the plug is removed

Plug socket for arthritis

Award winning Ezi-Plug

Another design being exhibited was the Handy Fasteners, a set of magnetic buttons that can be retro-fitted to any garment, helpful for anyone with arthritis, parkinson’s disease and many other related or neurological conditions.

Maintaining mobility, social inclusion, universal design and adaptable housing are all vital for an ageing population and so the exhibition looks at the progress other countries are making in this area which may provide working models for the UK to follow.

The New Old Exhibition looks at how the Japanese transport system has set new standards in universal design when it opened in 2005 following ten years of development. Its spaces and services are wheelchair friendly and each station has its own colour, wall material and and unique symbol to help people with cognitive impairment.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian government has an ambitious goal to make the country more age-friendly and to better harness the contribution that older people can make to society. The exhibition shows examples of universal design projects in action in Norway, from healthcare to transport, and public space to learning.

As our population ages, the world really needs to work together, sharing ideas and experiments, to make our individual countries a more welcoming age-friendly space for the elderly. This will ensure that our older people remain independent, whether through design, technology or social inclusion. The New Old exhibition is really worth a visit to see the progress, concepts and ideas that are being explored and in many cases already implemented as a vision for the future.

New Old exhibition is at the London Design Museum, running until the 19th February 2017.

 

 

Product news: Safety Gadgets for Walking Sticks

Clip on torch light for a walking stick / cane

Torch Light for a Walking Stick / Cane

Our two new handy, safety gadgets for walking stick users are very useful for fall prevention.

If you are unsteady on your feet and use a walking stick or cane, it can be too easy to trip up in the dark.  A  torch light that can be attached to your cane can be a great asset, particularly in the middle of the night when you need to get to the toilet and you don’t want to wake the whole house! Simply clip on the torch light and press the top button when you need to light your way.

Wall hung walking cane holder

DropMeNot Walking Stick / Cane and Crutch Holder

Most walking sticks tend to have the frustrating habit of falling over when you rest them up against something. Retrieving a stick from the floor can be very difficult and dangerous for the user – often resulting in a fall.

Canes that have an inbuilt grip in the handle, like the Sabi canes or the Top & Derby canes, can be safely propped up against a wall, but other canes may need a DropMeNot walking stick holder, a relatively new device, which can be secured to any wall around the home, to hold a walking stick or crutch when it is not needed. The holder can be positioned next to a favourite chair or by the bed, where it will be regularly needed.

For further information on our walking stick and canes and our complete product range visit our shop at designed2enable.co.uk #StayActiveWith Style

 

Product News – Garden Scoot

Mobile garden stool with wheels and tray beneath

Garden Scoot – Gardening Seat with Wheels in Lilac

Gardening is a hugely popular hobby that many people enjoy and it can be a great activity in retirement, to keep you fit and healthy.  Spending time in the fresh air is a wonderful form of relaxation, but gardening can be physically hard on your back and knees, and it can be quite challenging for anyone with reduced mobility or who are unsteady on their feet.

Gardening seat with wheels in Pink designed2enable.co.uk

Garden Scoot – Gardening Stool with Wheels in Pink

Garden Scoot  is lightweight yet sturdy, it makes light work of gardening, and can be manoeuvred around the garden with ease. Available in a wide range of fun colours, with solid tyres for easy maintenance, the Scoot can move in a sideways direction and it has a handy removable tray beneath the seat for holding tools, bulbs or small plants.

garden scoot gardening stool with wheels in orange

Garden Scoot – Gardening Stool with Wheels in Orange

Garden Scoot would make a great gift for any keen gardener. Read more about it here

Guest Post – Accomable recommend their top accessible city breaks

Accomable logo

Srin Madipalli, CEO and Co-founder of Accomable.com, the ‘Airbnb for disabled people’, shares his top tips for the best accessible city breaks in 2017.

Wheelchair accessible Barcelona

Barcelona City Centre

Barcelona –best for couples, culture vultures and foodies

Travel as a wheelchair user is rarely straightforward, but last summer I came to the conclusion that Barcelona is probably the most fun and accessible place in Europe I’ve visited.

First up: Barcelona has it all: iconic sights (tick!), a beautiful beach (tick!), lovely people and even better food (all present and correct!). Flights are plentiful and cheap and once you arrive, pretty much all of these attractions are accessible – from easy access to Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia to wheelchair friendly walkways along the beach (and free beach wheelchairs available too!).

Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Sagrada Familia

There is an awesome adapted apartment in Barcelona: MICs Sant Jordi is a block of cool, brilliantly adapted accessible apartments near the city centre of Barcelona. It’s simple, stylish and budget friendly too.

Finally, lots of the public transport is wheelchair accessible, including the Metro. This actually blew me away.

Discover more Barcelona accessible accommodation online.

Winchester – best for nature lovers, history buffs and foodies

Winchester was voted the best place to live in the UK last year, and it’s easy to see why, with its grand cathedral, excellent independent shops and thriving foodie scene.

The best way to explore is to follow the mile long accessible trail through Winchester, which takes you along the high street, into the cathedral (the ground floor is accessible) and onto Winchester College and Wolvesey Castle.

There is a good, budget accessible hotel in Winchester city centre, but if you have a car, there are some fantastic luxury options in the surrounding countryside, including one of my favourites, Wallops Wood.

Accessible accommodation  Winchester

Interior of Wallops Wood, Winchester

Discover more Winchester accessible accommodation online.

Amsterdam – best for art lovers, activity junkies and easy Eurostar access

city of Amsterdam

What with all the crazy cyclists, cobbled streets and tram tracks, you might not consider Amsterdam to be a great accessible destination. But think again, because the city has some brilliant accessible offerings, with many wheelchair-friendly trams and buses, and easy access to world class museums like the Rijksmuseum.

Check out the Blue Boat Company for accessible tours on the canals or join the locals with one of Star Bikes’ specially adapted cycles.

Star Bikes amsterdam

Star Bike Hire

There’s lots of good accessible accommodation in Amsterdam to fit a variety of tastes and budgets. Plus, if you’d prefer not to fly, you can get there by ferry from Harwich or by train by taking the Eurostar to Belgium and then changing trains and taking the Thalys service to Amsterdam.

Discover more about Amsterdam accessible accommodation online.

For more information on Accomable or to book an accessible stay, visit www.accomable.com

Product News: Hygge Inspired Homewares

Hygge inspired heated throw

Alaskan Husky Faux Fur Heated Throw

Even though they experience bitterly long cold winters, the Danes are well known for being one of the happiest nations. With up to 17 hours of darkness in the depth of winter and average temperatures of around 0C, the people of Denmark spend much of their time indoors. So how do they do it?

Their secret seems to be Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”), which is a lifestyle encompassing a romantic feel-good cosiness. The term Hygge comes from a Norwegian word meaning “Wellbeing”. It may be lighting candles and curling up on the sofa in front of a warm fire with a good book, or enjoying a mug of warm, luxurious hot chocolate and toasting crumpets on the fire. It is all about creating an intimate atmosphere and enjoying the moment, on your own or with friends and family.

heated faux fur cushion

Alaskan Husky Faux Fur Heated Cushion

Scandinavian styled homewares are helping to export hygge to the UK and our heated throws and heated cushions can create a gorgeously perfect hygge moment, snuggled up on the sofa enveloped with beautiful warmth. They are so cheap to heat that they may help to reduce your heating bill and would be perfect for an older person, who feels the cold and spends time at home in a favourite chair or even wrapped up in bed on a cold winter’s day.

one-leg-wood-posture-stools-room-set

OneLeg Wood Posture Stool

Beautifully crafted from Oak, OneLeg Wood Posture Stool typifies the simplicity of traditional Danish design whilst being ergonomic and functional. The stool is available in two height options and can be used as a coffee table or general seating around the home and would be great for sitting on while you toast those crumpets on the fire!

OneLeg Wood stool has a unique curved foot that allows the user to tilt and rotate around, following the body’s movements.

Oak Wood Danish posture stool

OneLeg Wood Posture Stools

When you sit on a OneLeg stool it gives your spine a completely natural stretch, with no load on the back, knees and feet. Moving around on the stool loosens tension and improves the core strength of your abdominal muscles and back. You will be amazed at the improvement to your core strength and focus by using OneLeg.

You can find out more about our products here

Robots as Companions and Carers

Robots for care homes

Robots programmed to help elderly residents in care homes

The idea of robots as companions, housemates or therapists is something we imagined as children when the future seemed very distant, but 2016 is apparently the future, and here they are.

ENRICHME (ENabling Robot and assisted living environment for Independent Care and Health Monitoring of the Elderly) is an international collaboration involving the University of Lincoln in the UK. They have developed a range of robots specifically for use inside the homes of the aged community, to help them maintain health and wellbeing – both mental and physical.

The robots are being integrated to work with ‘smart home’ technology, to provide 24-7 feedback to carers and health professionals from the inside of the person’s home. The robots are currently being used mainly as a big mobile phone or mobile assistance – giving reminders to take medications, locating lost items around the house, and enabling video chat with family and friends so that members of the elderly community are able to stay in touch with people via modern communication.

Ongoing developmental research is gathering data on how effective these robots are for the elderly community, but early research shows that they are of particular benefit to people with mild cognitive impairments, such as the early symptoms of the onset of dementia, but with bodies that are still physically able and healthy.

The European Research Project ‘Robot-Era’ recently concluded the world’s largest real-life trial of robot aides for the elderly. The four year trial was funded by Apple suppliers, Robotech and the European Commission, and are said to be ready to be released for commercial sales in 2017.

One of the biggest drives behind developing robotic care for elderly communities is to reduce strain on the healthcare system and care staffing. Mario, a European company developing robotics for elderly care, funded by the European Commission, intends to commercialise cost-effective robots by 2018 that healthcare providers can integrate into the care system, which benefits both the patient and the system.

Robot lifting patient

Robot being used in healthcare to lift patients

The way to commercialise the robots and get them into healthcare facilities is to prove that they are effective at improving senior quality of life, and at the same time reduce the cost of caring. There is  a large stigma attached to the idea of robots in our home, probably spurred by science fiction films of robots taking over the human population and controlling us. The care industry and robotics industry have work to do to get people to realise that robots are not to completely remove human interactions, but rather to complement them, reduce the load on carers to the elderly, and improve quality of life, giving peace of mind to their families in case of emergency. Mario doesn’t consider robotics an answer to everything, but if it can help elderly people to stay safe and comfortable in their own homes for longer, and at a more affordable cost, isn’t that a great thing?

paro robotic seal for elderly

Paro robotic seal for elderly and dementia patients

Another smaller-scale robot that has been well-received in care homes recently is Paro, a robotic seal. In studies, Paro has traditionally been brought to nursing homes where older people (often suffering from dementia or mental decline) hold the robot and interact with it. Positive effects include a general improvement in mood and reduction in depression. And Paro is really cute!

Of course, there are many mixed feelings, including some hilarious opinionated words from the ageing community. An article in the Guardian cites robot care for the elderly as “another way of dying miserably”. Europe’s Mobiserv project has been researching a “social companion robot” called Nadine, to encourage old people to eat healthily, exercise, and let them know when they haven’t spoken to anyone in a while – as if they hadn’t noticed!

The article ends with a reference to our ingrained fear of robots taking over the world; “who cares if Nadine and her kind go haywire and get rid of us? Will the other humans even notice?”

Robotic advancements are happening, and I suppose as elderly people, children or relatives of those elderly people, all we can do is ensure that the proper level of care and a degree of compassion is  a part of these “companion” machines. But is that worse? If they have…. feelings? Will they help themselves to cups of tea and biscuits from the pantry? Will they leave the toilet seat up? Only time will tell.